The Budget Control Act of 2011 includes a sequestration process that will make automatic cuts to domestic and defense spending in January 2013 unless Congress can agree on a proposal to lower the national deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Since the demise of the super committee, both parties have signaled their displeasure with the automatic mechanism and Republicans have promised to draft legislation that would eliminate or disperse the $600 billion of proposed reductions to military spending on to other federal agencies.
But today, a group of seven House Democrats led by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) beat the GOP to the punch and introduced H.R. 3519 in an effort to exempt Medicare from the $123 billion in cuts to provider reimbursements:
“Hospitals in New York are already slated to experience $15 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts under the Affordable Care Act over the next ten years,” Towns said. “If sequestration occurs, hospitals will lose another $2.6 billion — or over $116 million in my district alone.
“Cuts like these will severely harm patient access to care and undermine an employment base that supports over 700,000 jobs in New York State,” he said. “We simply cannot balance the nation’s budget on the backs of seniors, while simultaneously harming jobs.”
Meanwhile, a group of 40 other Democrats have penned a letter to President Obama urging him to maintain the sequestration cuts. Obama has threatened to veto any measures that reduce sequestration without making corresponding reductions to the deficit.
House Assistant Democratic Leader Rep. James Clybrun (R-SC), the House whip, is not an official sponsor of H.R. 3519, but has recently said, “I would love to see us do something that would not require that those triggers get pulled.” He added, “Because if those triggers get pulled, it’s across the board. It is going to be nasty. It would be a meat-ax approach, and I don’t think that’s the best way to do it. So there’s still time.”